History Carnival #3

  • Date posted: 25 February 2005
  • Blog: Detrimental Postulations
  • URL: http://rob.ifanything.org/detriment/index.php/postulate-194
  • Host: Rob Priest
  • Notes: The blog no longer exists and I was unable to contact the host or find an archived copy at the Wayback Machine. This is a text archive I created shortly after the original was posted. Original formatting and presentation has not been preserved. I haven't checked or updated any of the links; some will be defunct.

Roll up, roll up, and welcome to the third History Carnival, which I am proud to host.* The number of submissions has been somewhat daunting, but has also given me acres of fun stuff to read. And hopefully it will you too. The number of kinds of blogs engaging with historical issues in complex ways continues to grow, and with it the level of discussion. So without further ado...


There are some other posts which got lost here [this supplement not archived].

I'll start by getting a contentious batch out of the way, with an issue, in fact, which grew directly from the 2nd Carnival: an inter-blog debate about Studi Galileiani's review of the ramifications of Norman Cantor for historiography, which turned a lot of attention to historical theory, and in its most tempestuous moments provoked intense disagreement. The debate continued in the comments at Cliopatria, on Studi here and then further by Another Damned Medievalist. Then Paul replied once more, and most recently (as far as I'm aware), EMN responded with a subtle and personal post about 'doing justice' in historical writing. While the tone of the discussion has been... variable, the issues are important and present a good example of both the advantages and problems of blog-based historical debate.

I may be permitted a few observations on the furore. It is true that the fundamental epistemological questions of historiography were not originally a major focus of the discussion, which is something of a shame. Sometimes it has also felt like bloggers have been having a completely different debate to their counterparts. Nevertheless, there are two highly important features of blog-based discussion: personality and speed. People, for the most part, don't go off and read 5 books to footnote their comments, they work from what they're familiar with. While this might prove frustrating at times, there is no reason why the situation itself is necessarily negative, it just calls for modified approaches to debate. And what this debate has demonstrated is that the history blogworld is deeply interested in a much more basic question: the relationship between theory and practice in their lives' work. Perhaps this will be an issue for the next Carnival; or perhaps I'm completely wrong.

And on the work of history: Robert KC Johnson discussed strategies of transciption in the light of his work with the Presidential Recordings Project. Cranky Professor took leave from medievalism, on the other hand, to give us a look at his work in/on college archives.**

Turning with pleasure to the history of science, on Circadiania, Bora told us of a defining moment in chronobiology, and his reflections on changes in scientific culture and practise, and the troubles of continuing research into circadian rhythms. It's a fascinating story, especially as I'm guessing it will be as initally unfamiliar to many of you as it was to me.

The anniversary of Dresden turned several journos and bloggers to moral questions, but Orac's post on the matter (and its follow-up) dealt with the questions in particularly striking historical depth.

Provoked by a PBS documentary about the Icelandic Sagas, Nathanael at the rhine river entered into a consideration of the Vinland Map, touching issues of orality and visuality in historical evidence along the way.

Joanathan Dresner at Cliopatria responded somewhat despairingly to Daniel Pipes' mention of the possibility of reviving privateering, and gave us plenty of ditties to sing along the way.

Over at Frog in a Well, K.M. Lawson reviewed two quite different books on women during the Meiji Restoration, tracing some of the absences and differences between them.

Not sure if this is a first for an archaeologically-tinted Carnival piece, but either way, A.E. Brain guided us through his opinions on and experiences of Ancient European Astronomy. His suggestions evaluate social, economic and religious interpretations of such monuments as Stonehenge and Silbury Hill.

As if Japan, Iceland, Germany and the US weren't spreading the net wide enough for your liking, Tim Burke's Misrecognitions and Mythologies focused on the Rastafarian visitations to Ethiopia, discussing racism, The Phantom Menace, diaspora, Edward Said and representations of Africa along the way.

Widening the scifi angle for a second or two, Greg James Robinson's Harry Truman and the Vulcans considers the genealogy of 'Live long and prosper' via Dean Acheson and, well, Spock.

On a more literary-biographical tip, Spear Shaker puts the case for authorship's importance in the case of the Bard.

Staying with literature, the Little Professor discussed (wonderfully) some facets of historical fiction, both 19th and 20th century.

I got a bit hooked on Blanchot's 'Friendship' and started reading historiography through it, somewhat ramblingly.

Caleb produced another batch of high-quality work this month, but his musings on history-themed love songs deserves a whole truckload of responses, one commenter having already called it 'maybe the best post in the history of hnn!'

Paul Musgrave's response to the Greg Easterbrook argument that dying languages are a sign of progress is subtle and armed with a bucket of evidence, not least an investigation into the role of language in Irish nationalism. Well worth a read.

Matthew Maynard details the history of US Army infantry rifles.

Finally, (and I think most recently) Publius at Gods of the Copybook Headings elegantly reassesses Benjamin Disraeli ('Dizzy') in the light of politics since and before.

...and I'm spent. All that remains for me to do is pass on the information about Carnival #4: it will be on or about 15th March, and the host will be Another Damned Medievalist over at Blogenspiel. The email address for submissions is another_damned_medievalist AT hotmail DOT com [don't forget to remove the antispam obfuscation as necessary!]. Previous incarnations, the guidelines, and links to other carnivals continue to be located at the Sharonster's deftly-crafted website. Oh, and if I've made any errors, leave a comment and I'll fix it a.s.a.p.


* For personal reasons, I've had to put the Carnival up relatively early in the day. If you had valid submissions you hadn't yet sent, email me and I'll edit you in when I get the chance (probably later tonight). Otherwise, there's always the next Carnival!

** If you're interested in this then two posts, each of which bends the rules slightly, but are worthy of inclusion, are Paul's own piece on Galileo the 'Zealot', and Jonathan Dresner's on Habits of Mind.